Eternal Seduction by Jennifer Turner: A sort of review

I got tired of it sitting in my queue so here it goes

I got this book free on my new Kindle Fire, which was given to me as a gift. I have no money and, most importantly, I have no money to waste on badly written books, so I’m all for the freebies for right now.

Let me tell ya, there was nothing about this story that made me think “eternal seduction”—I mean, looking at the plot itself and the characters.

  • The Cover—a sketch of my impression:

Pasty, thin white people with problems. A hint of goth, roses, and morbidity. Instant pop media vampire story, spun right off of Stephanie Meyer and probably that Twilight nonsense. A simple recipe. I am not impressed.

When is the romance industry going to stop with these stupid covers??? *pulling out my hair*

But there was almost a jewel under the cover. It turned out to be a few steps above that Twilight nonsense.

  • The Heroine

My attitude about the book began to change with finding out that the heroine’s name is Logan, which is typically used as a masculine name. Not bad, Jennifer Turner.

I read the second part of the dedication: “And to Logan and Kerestyan, who decided to break the mold and not be the classic hero and heroine…thank you!”

So, you think so, Jennifer Turner, whoever you are.

Logan Ellis is also homeless. An interesting attempt. (It didn’t stay interesting for long.) Logan Ellis, again, another interesting thing to note about the character’s journey.

  • Fatphobia/Fat Hatred

Nobody likes feeling like the main character would say or ugly, bigoted things about their body or eating habits if they were somehow to extract them from the book and meet them in real life.

 “…When the fat girl stuffing her face in the corner fully recognizes food gives her the comfort she can’t find in anyone else.”

It was supposed to be some kind of profound moment so I was caught off guard considering that Logan, the main character, is a skinny bitch character, a homeless starved heroine addict who chose to live on the streets. At first, I thought she was charming but as I continue reading, she’s just becoming abrasive. That comment didn’t help my perception of her. I definitely don’t appreciate her stereotype here at all and she pairs it up with example of sexism and promiscuous men, prefacing the comment with “The moment you realize all your worst fears are true”.

But that comment and how it’s set up within the context of the story really put me off. As if of course we’re all lonely misanthropic fat girls sitting in corners huddling our foods around us and shunning people.

I visited her website and was surprised to find that Jennifer Turner appears to be a plus-size woman, like myself. That’s if the photo under the author’s section is at all recent. Politically and intellectually, I don’t understand why she would choose to write a thin character who would make a comment that, to me, sounds fatphobic, out of the blue like that when the character is trying say something important.

Whatever, after the words were said, the whole book lost its shine for me and it went downhill from there in a combustion of disappoint and barely expressed ire. The suspension of disbelief was dismissed and the good faith in the character was totaled beyond all recognition.

  • The Love Interest of the Heroine

Kerestyan a pretty unusual name for me. I like it.

Kerestyan seemed pretty interesting up until the point that Logan made her fatphobic remark and I lost interest in the book. My favorite scene was the in the kitchen scene, unf.

  • Preternatural “Plastic Surgery”

So after about two decades or so of wrecking her body with heroine, you’re telling this bitch gets a pass once she receives the privilege of becoming a servio? Get. Out. Of. Town.

In the same vein as the fatphobic remark made by Logan, the heroine, it seems that eternal thinness is the beauty standard for vampires. Give me a break. This metaphysical/magical “plastic surgery” adds a whole layer to my understanding of the bigotry inherent in the body image message of this book.

  • Drug Trafficking in New York

So you’re telling me that after living for thousands of years, these vampires can’t figure out how to heavily mitigate drug trafficking in one primarily human city?

Sounds like the limitations of the human imaginations to me. That’s a fail, Jennifer Turner.

  • Homelessness

Only presumably liberal white artists would choose to portray a story in which the white main character actively chooses to be homeless and actively chooses to be on drugs.

I feel like this was a poor decision on the author’s part and was somewhat mocking of people who are born into poverty and homelessness.

  • All-Seeing Old Dude

Spare me. The all-seeing, all wise master vampires who reigns of from on high? Throne and all? The author could’ve missed me with this one. I was, overall, not impressed. The whole “very old vampire family presented as a gang/organization with selective recruiting” was another fail.

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Short but sweet, or just short?: Is flash fiction too flashy for the eye of the conscious reader

Sometimes I feel like chat speak diminishes the art of conversation by playing into people’s apathy and unwillingness to take the time to reach out to one another. It gives the excuse to not communicate with others on a level allows for retention and empathy by using as many words as necessary to achieve that end with no limitations imposed.

Is flash fiction doing the same thing to the art of the novelist?

Was there ever some perfect time in all of history that didn’t include some form of shorthand or “flash”?

*shrug*I don’t kno’. I just get the sense that we’re moving into an age where people don’t want to read and/or don’t have time. What’s more, they don’t really want to write and/or don’t have time to.

I don’t really view it as a compliment when I get a hearty physical and/or proverbial pat on the back for putting out “good” flash fic. To me, it means that people are content to read 200 words or less words from me but aren’t willing to embark on a longer, wordier, more heartfelt, and detailed journey in the form of a novel. It means that they are lazily uninterested in me as a writer, an artist, and a human being. I find this, needless to say, insulting and just unacceptable.

We live in the age of chat speak and rapidly advancing technology. People don’t even have to look each other in the face any more to sling virtually meaningless words around from one side of the computer screen to the next. Call me jaded or disillusioned but flash fic kinda worries me because it makes wonder if

  1. people actually read books for originality and spirit anymore
  2. any good books are actually being published given the kind of capitalist, dime a dozen, cookie-cutter mentality of the publishing industry
  3. people’s attention spans are just getting shorter

Flash fiction and it’s techniques, as I understand them, are very minimalist. The point of flash fiction is that it’s not the length of a novel and uses as few words as possible to convey a scene, a moment, a thought, an emotion, a plot, a story, people’s feelings, the situation. Flash fiction does these things all at the once, sometimes.

I believe we live in an age where people are trying to use flash fiction and flash fiction techniques to write novel length books. If 45% or more of the book is badly written filler crap, then what’s the point? Is popular flash fiction a detrimental product of the modern age?

Sometimes flash fiction can be the length of a short essay, I’ve actually never heard of anything longer though there is no determined length. And maybe that’s all you need. But the point is that it’s not and never will be the length of a book with this kind of minimalist approach. In the same way that canned condensed soup can still be delicious, it will never be the same as sitting down to the whole meal with rolls and beverages and deserts and such, and no added water necessary. I know that not every book is a good or engaging read for me.

Many flash fiction pieces wouldn’t survive if the writer tried to turn it into a book because flash fiction exists in a moment or two. It is not a journey, it usually consists of a fleeting instant or so. Some people like that kind of brevity. Personally, I need something a little more filling. I like literature that I can take some time with and enjoy and unfold, not something that I’ll be done with five seconds or five minutes later.

Writing for Romantic Friday Writers, 400 words maximum with a theme, every Friday, prose or verse, I’ve know that you can say plenty in 400-words. However, my beef with flash fiction is not an inability to meet the challenge or that I think that flash fiction is hard but it is rather a dislike for the minimalist nature of the art itself.

It really makes me feel terrible, as a writer, an artist, as a novelist, that the only thing I can get people to read is a dozen sentences, give or take. Because I can do more. I know I’m a talented writer, and I’m not trying to toot my horn by saying so. So why don’t people want to read and why aren’t publishers knocking down my door, I don’t know. There can be a lot of reasons for that.

As far as writing groups go, the trouble is that it’s hard to find dedicated, passionate writing groups where the art is the thing and not money or pretentiousness. Romantic Friday Writers is a flash fiction group, a pretty dedicated and consistent one, I’d say. But it’s still a flash fiction group with certain content expectations and guidelines.

When I’m sitting at my computer I can write whatever the hell I want without content expectations, word count limitations, and guidelines. And I really, really fucking enjoy that, with an almost sadomasochistic joy. What I enjoy more is people who are interested in the worlds I create and the people I get to know there and everything in between.

The only time I get to interact with other writers is when I am put in a bridle with blinders on. No me gusta.

evermore prolific,

Taviante Queens

Masashi Kishimoto’s Female Characters in ‘Naruto’ Revisited

I’m sure I’m not imagining things now, or overanalyizing.

Naruto is a boys-will-be-boys, fraternal love shounen anime. I don’t think that the manga is so different from the anime arcs that it can’t be compared, so I’ll judge the thing as a whole and offer more of my critique.

Of course, Naruto is doing a few things with homoromantic/homoromantic asexual love (?)–that is affection between two or more people of the same gender that is affectionate, sexual, and/or nonsexual–that many fighting anime meant for male audiences does not do. But the rub is that female characters, no matter what positions of power they might hold, are on the periphery as things that need to be protected, mothers, the love interest of male characters, violently irrational maniacs, boy crazy goofs, healers and nurses, spiteful deceptive vipers, canon fodder for male ignorance and sexism perpetrated by male characters.

After watching the most recently subbed episode of Naruto Shippuden (episode 247, “Target: The Nine Tails”), and seeing Kushina’s portrayal, I’m really frustrated with Kishimoto and the animating staff. The mangaka’s resolution to Kushina being brought to the Village Hidden in the Leaves to be a vessel for the Nine Tails, and how she dealt with it, is that she “filled herself with love”. What the hell is that supposed to mean? She got a boyfriend, is this the answer to sexism and making women’s bodies vessels and weapons of political warfare? That’s the resolution to this horrible thing that an entire village and it’s political leaders decided to do to her? And then they told her not to be too loud while she was giving birth to a f**kin’ baby??? 0_0

That’s got to be one of the most horrible and the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. He chose to present her as yet another passive, maternal, my-boyfriend-fixed-the-horrors-of-my-life kind of female character. Another passive, motherly (albeit with a fiery temper) kind of female character, using her inconsequential, passive magical girl powers to save everyone except herself. I’ll tell her the same thing I’d tell Sailor Moon: She would get punched in the face and murdered if she tried to use the power of love to stop a fist from coming at her and to stop someone trying to kill her. I think Kushina’s plight could have been presented, at this point, as more realistic.

It’s really sad because several of Kishimoto’s female characters have a lot of promise and potential, but despite that the anime/manga is ongoing, it’s clear that these characters as strong female heroines are being poorly executed/portrayed. I definitely think that Kishimoto’s inability to craft 3-dimensional female heroes is a reflection of how he probably thinks of women and interacts with them. It’s the same hurtle that female viewers and female players such as myself run into with both anime and manga and furthermore the gaming industry.

Art is not separate from those who create it, it comes from within them.

Evermore,

Taviante Queens

A Response to Kelli Collins

Well…at least ours wasn’t the book you liked the least. That’s something. Though I *am* sorry we made you give in. We’re like sirens that way. ;)  It’s my hope women never feel ashamed for reading our books, however, our the romance genre at large. Whichever emotions a book makes you feel, shame definitely shouldn’t be one of them. Many thanks for giving us another try, and much luck in finding books you love!
.
Kelli Collins
Editor-in-Chief
Ellora’s Cave
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Dear Kelli Collins:

I am surprised that in the vastness of the blogoshere you came across my article on Elia’s Diamonds at all. I was somewhat humbled to see an editor in chief pop in there.

I realize that you may have approached my critique with good intentions and I understand that you were trying to be politely humorous in your response but I am really, really not amused with the romance publishing industry at all. This issue is not “cute” to me, and it wasn’t Ellora’s Cave itself that made me give in, so don’t get too full of yourself. I mean, if you were starving, wouldn’t you eat the things avaliable to you that don’t fill you up but keep you from dying? If you’ve only ever known a lover who doesn’t fulfill you but is the only person you can be intimate with, wouldn’t turn to them time and time again before realizing that they just can’t give you what you want? Maybe, maybe not, but these are working metaphors for my relationship with with publishers like Ellora’s Cave.

Because you really are like sirens and I think you should stop to wonder why it is you keep crashing people’s ships on the rocks, leaving them to drown, then thinking that it’s somehow funny.

Ellora’s Cave nor can any publisher please every single person. Please don’t think that I don’t understand that. Not every single book I’ve ever read from Ellora’s Cave has been a complete waste of time and simultaneously many of the titles under Ellora’s Cave have constantly reminded me that there is a deep-seated issue in the romance publishing industry and the industry at large. There’s plenty of reasons why I can say that that it but something tells me you’re not interested.

At one point, it was my dream to be published by a company like Ellora’s Cave when I was in high school. But the more I read, the more I realized that it’s a business and people don’t seem to care what they’re printing as long as it sells.

I know, I know. Don’t like it, don’t read it–the golden rule. But I sure wish exposed writers and publishers alike would, I don’t know, do something more than what I’m having the misfortune of stumbling across.

Sincerely,

Taviante Queens

Elia’s Diamonds

A Reminder of Why I’ve Mostly Given Up on the Mainstream Romance Industry

I finished reading two romance novels last night in ebook format and I was tired and sad to say that it’s work like this that makes me so eternally sick of the romance and erotic romance genre and publishing industry.

I read The Pleasures of Sin by Jessica Trapp and Rent-A-Studd by Lynn LaFleur. Eck, I gave in to Ellora’s Cave.

I fasted from Ellora’s Cave and broke myself of that filthy habit two years ago but I still long to read about intimacy, the best attempts I’ve ever read being constrained within the limitations of time pieces like those written by Robin Schone, the realism of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the urban snippets of intimacy in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series.

I feel somewhat ashamed to admit I’ve been reading this kinds of books again, mostly because of the way people look down on intimacy and erotic romance, and the ways in which women are socialized from the cradle to chase after romance and the love of a at all costs. But I like, enjoy, and relish in intimacy, depth, and intensity and plots that have these elements as an integral parts.

However, the romance, erotica, and erotic romance market, particularly the historical, urban, and paranormal romance is just full of shit.

Rent-A Studd was weak and shallow in several places, relying heavily on Fabio-esque era and woodsman/earthy male archetypes and uppermiddle class white fantasy and detachment but was much better in my opinion for several reasons than The Pleasures of Sin by Jessica Trapp, granted that they belong to two different genres of romance.

Both books were horrid in their own right, though the LaFleur was more digestable and even cute at times.

Maybe I’ll give both books separate reviews later, but for right now I need to get the poison of disappointment, disgust, and outrage out.

The Pleasures of Sin by Jessica Trapp was HORRIBLE. The heroine, a white European young woman named Brenna, over the course of the novel, is

  1. stripped of her only passion which is painting,
  2. betrayed by the family she tried to protect endlessy,
  3. her sisters are in constant danger of being raped by the men that her “husband” brought to their keep with him or by men they will be forced to marry,
  4. psychologically abused,
  5. kidnapped,
  6. she is married to a man who claps her in shackles, manacles, and a collar and makes her hobble in public in them,
  7. forced to marry a man in her sister’s stead,
  8. nearly has her head cut off by her unwanted husband,
  9. unwanted husband leaves her to stew in her own filth for a month while shackled up, taking the key to her bounds with him,
  10. publically whipped by the man she is forced to marry after being duped into attempting to kill him by her sisters and father,
  11. coerced into a sexual relationship with this man to save her messed up family.

This was worse than Angel in the Red Dress by Judith Ivory, which is what made me go cold turkey on romance in the first place.

As a Black woman, whose descendants were enslaved and suffered every manner of abuse and brutalization imaginable, there was little to nothing amusing to me about this woman’s situation, let alone romantic.

Why do so many heterosexual white female romance writers feel the need to write about this shit like its cute and indoctrinate and pacify women into a culture of socially-induced Stockholm Syndrome? I just don’t understand.

Is there any such thing as quality romance/romantica in the world??? Because most of it appears to be a bunch of shit.

If this is the future of romance and it related genres, I give up. I just give up.

evermore real,

Queens

M. Night Shyamalan: a reflection on his movies and how ‘The Last Airbender’ was completely and utterly wrecked

Contrary to all the negative reviews surrounding M. Night Shyamalan, as a writer and filmmaker/director, I had always enjoyed his work for the most part.The Sixth SenseSigns (even with Mel Gibson the Flaming-damn-Racist). Devil.The VillageLady in the WaterUnbreakable (even though Samuel L. Jackson is the villain). Even the bogus documentary. I even thought The Happening was a good idea even if it didn’t pan out all too great.

Ever since I read a quote from him about the spiritual message intended in his films, I was drawn to him and his work as an artist. I had nothing but high hopes.

It literally nearly made me cry when I heard that he screwed up Avatar The Last Airbender the live action movie. I was even more surprised to find that the casting was racist and that two clearly brown main characters central to the story were cast as lily white people (Katara and Sokka). Aang was even white. The acting wasn’t that great and I’m too scared to look at the other criticisms of the movie. He screwed up the plot and changed the pronunciation of names.

This show was handed to him–plot, details, action, emotion, potential–on a gotdamn silver platter. How did this happen?

I was heartbroken. But why? I had never watched the ATLA animation. As an American “cartoon”, most likely produced by white writers, I put it immediately out of my mind, as my opinion of most American animation is very poor, thanks to Disney and a white, conservative, middleclass dominated market. I prefer Japanese animation/anime, though Japan has it’s racism against POC, Black people in particular, that it needs to fucking deal with.

What I’ve come to realize though is that People of Color are never the main characters in M. Night’s movies. He himself is Indian (as in from India). As I understand it India is one of the nations of brown people known for it’s history with white European imperialism and colonization. Maybe this has something to do with it? There just has to be a reason why he has yet to make a film where a person of color is the main character.

The American mainstream film industry needs to die a hard, painful death. I give up.

*sigh*,

Queenly

Kunoichi/Female Characters in Kishimoto’s ‘Naruto’

I think one of the biggest issues with Naruto, for me as a female viewer of color, is Kishimoto’s/the animators’ treatment and portrayals of female characters. Even if you were to argue that the target audience is mostly male, this should not excuse or validate sexism and, in some cases, misogyny.

Some of these point may be overlooked but it’s worth saying anyway in terms of how I view the roles and typecasting of female characters/kunoichi in the show.

  1. There is a strict gendered separation of male and female characters that is maintained throughout the series.
  2. Females are members of the team but there’s no way to really say that these male characters are actually friends with them. They are typically either 1) villains, 2) love interests/mothers, 3) team members/colleagues/comrades, or 4) sexual objects. I definitely think Kishimoto and the animators are more interested presenting fraternal relationships.
  3. With the exception of Ten Ten who is rarely seen in the main story arc, many of the primary female characters may be fierce fighters but Kishimoto has firmly seated/stereotyped them as nurturing and motherly with the concept of medical ninjutsu and chakra control. As if females are natural healers and nurturers with natural propensities towards innate chakra control. It’s a useful skill to have but this idea is nonetheless sort of problematic, because it presents female ninjas as natural healers and softens their strength and abilities by placing them in the mold of “the healer type”, as if to cater to a largely male audiences needing motherly figures/nice girls to not feel emasculated. How many male characters do you see presented as healers, with the exception of Kabuto (a villain) and nameless medical nin who appear throughout the series? Because, obviously, guys’ chakra control is too poor so they get all the cool physical/flashy jutsu, yeah. So Kishimoto definitely plays to heteronormative gender roles, albeit in a way that can be overlooked.
  4. The only brown female character so far is presented as a brute (Karui of Kumogakure). Nobody can tell me that two or three or more of the ninjas from the Village Hidden in the Clouds are not racist portrayals, and that includes Killer B.
  5. Ten Ten is the only openly feminist-like character, or at the least the only person inspired by successful, powerful kunoichi (not just their beauty), in the whole series and it seems she gets the least airtime out of the Konoha female shinobi. (And there’s going to be some people who pop up and argue that Sakura’s also an exception but, just to let you know, I’m tired of Sakura, honestly.)
  6. Is there any female ninja whose beauty or big breasts isn’t the focus of what’s great about her?
  7. Many female characters are presented as sacrificial lambs, so to speak. For example: the f*king 5th Hokage, in all her years of combat, training, and experience, never developed a justu that could protect the entire village or kick Pain’s ass (one of Pain’s asses at least). Not that it’s something to be overlooked, but she instead protects the villagers by nearly sacrificing her own life with a passive justu that used her chakra in conjunction with Katsuyu. Annnd then…Naruto swoops in to save the day.
  8. Of course there’s only one female shinobi per team and she will always need a male shinobi to save her at some point.
  9. The younger female characters of the main cast are presented as boy crazy! Ten Ten and Temari, probably less than others but it comes out sometimes.

Additional Relevant Thoughts:

  • Are there no females who have the sharingan?
  • How is it okay for Jiraiya to invade women’s privacy in hot springs and this is largely treated as it is supposed be funny? I like Jariya as character—without the peeping. It’s really starting to bug me. You could have made him an imperfect character without that extent of perversion and sexism/objectification.
  • Is it too much to ask for a cool fat female character who’s not presented as a complete joke?

‘Twilight’, smdh, Stephanie Meyer, you are about a decade too late to catch me with this one

After studying the covers of books and reading their synopsis and a number of reviews, I can literally tell before I open it, sometimes before I touch it, whether or not it’s worth it or it’s shit. The moment that I saw the cover of Twilight, I knew it wasn’t worth shit. Let people belittle my sixth sense. I don’t give a damn.

Sometimes you can’t tell anything from the cover of a book. But other times, especially as the market is becoming more and more predictable, not only can you read the cover, you get a “sensation” of what could possibly be going on within the pages.

Let’s read the cover of Twilight, shall we:

  • Pasty white hands—this book is about pretty white people with problems.
  • Apple—forbidden fruit, pop angsty, horny teenagers. The color red, interesting. (keeping in mind that I already knew this was YA book)
  • Title/background/white lettering—‘Twilight’, black background, gothic, pop angsty, vampires because ‘the freaks’ come out at night, of course

Stephanie Meyer, you are a decade too late to catch me up with this, honey. I stopped reading historical romance and YA/teen fiction a long time ago.

If such horrifyingly boring, overdone, rip-off Romeo/Juliet, abusive, macho, love-triangle bullshit can be derived from the books, then the books suck by my reckoning.

I literally fell asleep during every.single.movie. (watched online, free)

Me: Hey Shauna—wanna watch the rest of your favorite movie, Twilight? [we both fell asleep on them the night before]

My Sister: Heh. That’s funny. [walks away]

Wrap-Up:

  1. Neither of the leads in these movies can act. It’s painful to watch.
  2. I found it very metaphorical that there are so many scenes where we’re in Bella’s trunk and not only is she not driving, Edward at some point pops his pasty ass into the driver’s side window and takes the wheel from her. Bella’s entire life revolves around Edward or her rebound, Jacob.  Has no life and personality and it’s very frustrating to watch. I found this more offensive than anything else.
  3. So many of Bella’s scenes are in bed and/or with Edward. It’s like the rest cure in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”…only portrayed as romantic. When it’s really just creepy and disgusting.
  4. Why is Edward over 100-years old and stalking a teenage girl???
  5. We’re not even going to get into portrayals of POC in the films, but, for example, why are all the lycanthropes almost cookie-cutouts of each other, right down to what their wearing???
  6. Why are these vampires so old and yet they can’t control themselves over a little drop of blood???
  7. Stephanie Meyer came up with the concept of glittering vampires when she was staring at her cell phone jewel bling—I’m convinced.
  8. I don’t even want to start a commentary on why so many teens like Twilight. I don’t even want to start a commentary on why so many adults like Twilight, which might be worse. People hate that Harry Potter might someday be included in literary anthologies, or doubt that it will be. All I can say is that if this is the literature of future generations, then we need to be concerned about the world’s children.

WhatEva, I don’t have any more brain cells to waste on this.

Yours,

queen

Princess Tiana’s transformation–let’s get a little academic

Princess Tiana. Photo from all-disneychannel.com

The anticipated and hoped for reaction by the story writers and marketers at Disney is that audiences will view Tiana’s transformation into a frog as fun, magical, entertaining, and necessary. However, what the transformation really does is erase any question or possibility of what the film might have been like if Tiana had been human, Black, and female the whole duration of the film like her fellow Disney princesses.

The visibility and hypervisibility of Black women’s bodies (and the bodies of women/characters who we identity with our eyes as [potentially] of color) serve as a ploy to identify them as the sexualized, racialized, exotic “other”, a phenomena presented usually in the form of a side character or supporting character, in a world where whiteness is the default. Simultaneously, the invisibility and hyperinvisibility of these women’s bodies (i.e. being turned into a cat or a frog, being presented as a [scantily clad] villian and non-human) makes them more palatable and digestable to the gazes of those audiences who have been socialized against accepting and embracing brown/Black bodies in roles reserved for white bodies. This further confirms, affirms, corroborates racist perceptions, ideas, and presentations of “black bodies” and “black spaces” and it does so safely within the sanctuary and under the protection of white spaces with the help of it’s gatekeepers and policers who silence dissenters.

But Disney’s The Princess and the Frog solidifies a new level of racism in mainstream media though I wouldn’t call it “progressive” or some kind of “step forward” because it’s been done before: Princess Tiana is the main character–this is the new level which draws viewers in since it is the opposite of her being a side or supporting character or an extra). However, where this gimmick particularly fails is when Disney decides to turn her into a frog for a chunk of the movie.

Princess Tiana is turned into an animal to erase the visibility of her Black, female, and human body and this is made possible by the invisibility of that human, Black body. As an animal, she is not only more digestable and palatable for white audiences via the invisibility of her human, Black-identified, female body, she becomes fun, entertaining, and non-threatening in a mainstream media where three-dimensional Black female characters rarely take “the lead”, a role that is reserved for whites or *shouts* “ANYBODY ELSE? ANYBODY…?”.

Princess Tiana. Photo from Wikipedia.
Princess Tiana's tranformation as a frog. Photo from http://www.fanpop.com

 

Folks, Disney is not less racist than before because it tacked on a Black princess Pt. II

Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen

Didn’t catch Part I? Check it out here.

The Princess and the Frog again: white folks that I know come to me in confessional and tell me they think the film was racist and they know it but like/saw it anyway and let their kids watch it. They still take their kids to Disney World at least once a year. Disney can’t get it right, so when are we going stop wanting and feeling like we need to be included in Disney’s fantastical, wonderful world? And when are our so-called allies going to join our staunch allies and just say NO?

Why does it have to be “I love Disney, but….”? You could just as easily flip that sentence around and say “Disney is racist, classist, and sexist but I still love it”. Those statements are alarmingly similar if you ask me.

When we say NO, with everything in us, we won’t have to preface criticisms with “I love [insert problematic thing here], but…”.

In my case, I love the Kingdom Hearts videogames—not a Black person as a main character in sight in those games and Disney had their hands all over it. At the same time I don’t go around professing my love of Disney. I grew out of my sometimes blind love as a child for Disney gradually, starting with the appropriation and misrepresentation of Pocahontas as a fairytale and when that stuff in Fantasia was brought to my attention, it was just another nail in the coffin. Disney, in some ways, cultivated my vision of the fantastical when I was growing up and at the same time I have felt in recent years most acutely that it is completely necessary to hold Disney at an arm’s length and set it away from me. The addition of a Black Disney princess has not changed that, and nor will the next Kingdom Hearts game or the next catchy song in their animated feature or Johnny Depp in Pirates.

The piece I read at the satirical blog, The People’s News, made light of Black people’s criticisms of the film trailer supposedly in attempt to spark discussion. One piece I read is titled this and offers the opinion that “The Princess and the Frog is not (entirely) racist” (and so it’s okay because the movie isn’t “entirely” racist???). Not to jump down the throat of the guy who wrote that, but, again, why are we drawing the line at what is “acceptably racist” instead of maintaining that racism is never okay? A share of the articles were very tentative about criticizing the film so their arguments processed in my mind as helpful but kind of lukewarm. But most of all the articles I’ve ever read on the subject are from people who confess to be Disney fans.

“I hold Disney movies very close to my heart but is anyone else ever put off by some of the underlying messages?”

Not Quite Going the Distance, Develle Dish

And that’s the trouble: We’re holding things like Disney so close to our hearts that we’re also refusing to acknowledge that what we love about it is too tangled up in what we criticize and want to change and what needs to be replaced with radical alternatives. Because Disney is not going to crumble to the ground tomorrow, not as long as people are supporting the negative things it does as a corporation that appropriates and panders watered-down, magicked-up fairytales. In this case, it is our love that renders us unable to raise our hand against that which dehumanizes us and those around us.

“This movie shows anything but the overcoming of stereotypes in Disney films. So until the real deal comes along, stay in your seats”

The Oberlin Review Blog

Nice try. That’s ifthe real deal comes along. I don’t even think Disney, as a corporation, is capable of “the real deal”…. A history and pattern of media production like the one the Walt Disney Corporation has just doesn’t disappear.

Sunflower from Disney's Fantasia (1940). She is not only the servant to a white, female centaur, she herself is part-donkey. Centaurs are usually horse hybrids.

evermore real,

Ms. Queenly